Rand Paul’s Disappointing Fundraising Brings The Reality About His Campaign To The Forefront

Rand Paul's fundraising in the just completed quarter is disappointing enough that it's clearly time for him to consider calling it a day.

Rand Paul Campaign Rally

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who’s campaign has been rocked with problems and declining poll numbers for most of the summer, raised just $2.5 million in the quarter that ended yesterday:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will report around $2.5 million in donations to his presidential campaign, a dip from his first quarter, though his campaign is emphasizing that more money started to roll in recently.

“Not only are we in for the long haul but we’ve seen an uptick in crowds and support,” said Paul’s spokesman Sergio Gor. “Since the last debate we’ve raised $750,000.”

One of the first candidates to officially declare for the White House, Paul hadraised close to $7 million from April through June. That was slightly more than his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, raised in the comparable period of his 2012 bid. But in the next quarter of that campaign, Ron Paul raised $8 million.


[T]he dropoff from the first quarter, coupled with the troubles of two pro-Paul super PACs, could aid the ongoing efforts of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to lure supporters into his camp. The weeks between the first and second debate saw one pro-Paul super PAC’s leaders indicted, and another (less active) pro-Paul PAC announce that it was pausing its efforts until the candidate improved in the polls. The campaign has $2 million cash on hand, having already spent $250,000 to help the Republican Party of Kentucky pay for a presidential caucus. That will let Paul seek a Senate re-election as he tries to forge ahead in the White House race — something the campaign says it has more than enough money and momentum to do.

Taking into account both Paul’s fundraising during the first three months of the campaign, part of which fell during a period when he wasn’t even officially a candidate, and the fact that Ben Carson raised nearly ten times as much as Paul did during this period, this is most assuredly not good news for a campaign that has already been struggling. As early as July, when Paul’s campaign was just about three months old, it was already becoming apparent that Paul’s campaign was starting to fizzle out, although to be fair much of what was happening to him at the time was happening to nearly all the other candidates in the race due to the rise of Donald Trump. When the debates rolled around, though, Paul did very little to help himself. By most accounts, Paul’s debate performance was fair at best, and likely didn’t come across very well to prospective Republican voters. The reality of that fact can be seen in Paul’s standing in the polls, where he has declined precipitously. In the national polls, Paul is averaging 2.3% according to RealClearPolitics, with the two most recent polls from USA Today and NBC News showing him at 3% and 2% respectively and all of the polls conducted since the September 16th debate showing him at 4% or lower. This is a substantial fall from the 10% average he was at when he entered the race in April. In Iowa, the Kentucky Senator is averaging 3.3% in a state where he had been at 10% when he entered the race. Finally, in New Hampshire, Paul is averaging 3.7% after having been as high as 13% some six months ago. While it’s undeniably true that we’ve seen cases in the past where candidate’s who were down in the polls ended coming back and doing well, the fact that Paul has been on a steady downward trajectory since entering the race does not bode well for his campaign at all, and his fundraising numbers would seem to suggest that his donors agree. Beyond fundraising, the most immediate impact of Paul’s decline in the polls may end up being his exclusion from the main stage debate on October 28th. If that happens, it’s hard to see how he bounces back.

Most importantly,of course, if Senator Paul is going to bounce back, he’s going to need money to finance the kind of campaign that will allow him to do that. As things stand, $2.5 million dollars raised and $2 million cash in hand certainly isn’t enough to do it. It certainly won’t be enough to get him through the early primary states at the beginning of the year, assuming he gets that far, and if his poll numbers continue to shrink then it’s likely that he’ll find fundraising will become even more difficult over the past three months. This will be especially true if he loses the ability to appear on the main debate stage with the candidates that most voters are coming to perceive as the “serious” candidates for the Republican nomination. In addition to those issues, though, Paul also has a Senate reelection to worry about. While he has managed to convince the Kentucky GOP to take the steps needed to let him avoid Kentucky’s law against appearing on the ballot for two races at the same time, at some point he will have to make a choice between returning home and getting to work on a reelection bid that most observers still believe to be safe for him and continuing what looks for all the world like an increasingly quixotic bid for the Republican nomination. At this point, the wise choice would be to go home to Kentucky rather than wasting another single day on the campaign trail.



FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    I was among the many who snarked at the time, but it really looks like that $500k bribe Rand paid to the KY state GOP to keep his Senate seat may just pay off yet…

  2. MikeSJ says:

    Is it asking too much to hope that he’ll lose re-election in Kentucky?

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @legion: But he only had to pay them off to do a caucus because KY law prohibits his name being on the ballot twice. If he had anticipated dropping out of the prez race he could have saved the money. Perhaps an example of the grasp of reality and the planning and management skills that have brought him to this well deserved success.

    And he’s got a comb over almost as bad as Trump’s.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Rand couldn’t hold the Paulites. Why? His opposition to abortion? His lame attempts to cozy up to the Jesus wing? Did he lack the vital aroma of racism that hung around his dad? Did he not smell sufficiently of crazy?

    The funny thing is that this nutter was actually one of the saner guys on the GOP debate stage. And his crazy was in a whole different key from the rest of the choir.

  5. bill says:

    he’s un electable- a passive conservative whatever is just not gonna fly.

  6. lynn says:

    @michael reynolds: “The funny thing is that this nutter was actually one of the saner guys on the GOP debate stage.”

    I actually agree with him on many of his foreign policy positions … on nothing else, of course.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: @lynn: And Trump, who’s narcissistic, racist, and a pathological liar, is also more sensible than the rest of the bunch. Sad. Just terribly sad.

  8. irondog says:

    [T]he dropoff from the first quarter, coupled with the troubles of two pro-Paul super PACs, could aid the ongoing efforts of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to lure supporters into his camp.

    What’s the likelihood that Ted Cruz manages too woo enough of the other candidates’ supporters (as they slowly bow out) to become a legitimate frontrunner? The guy a) feeds red meat to the base and b) refuses to criticize other candidates in which he believes he can steal supporters from. The guy has a great strategy going right now, and the math certainly makes this a possibility.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @irondog: Please, please, please, please, please. Of course this is all fun and games ’til Hillary has a heart attack and one of these bozos gets elected.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    He may see the writing on the wall. It would appear he is now putting more effort into his Senate campaign.

  11. Paul Hooson says:

    Simply put, if you cannot even manage a campaign, you cannot manage the country…